We finished the holiday by car, going to see our friends Kathleen & Tom in La Crosse. It was strange to be on four wheels instead of two. Pros: Keeping dry and cool. Cons: No longer enjoying the countryside as much.
Here we’re passing one of the many windfarms in the USA. I’m astonished that most Europeans seem to think that Americans don’t go in for renewable energy. This one in Wisconsin has only 20 towers – quite small compared with those we’ve seen in Nebraska, but very substantial by UK standards.
We retraced our path from 2009 over a bit of the “Great River Road” along the Mississippi from Prairie du Chien to La Crosse. Because of the thunderstorms that had recently swept through Minnesota and northern Wisconsin, the river was much higher than we’d seen it last year, and full of floating weed. We took some pictures at the same vantage point as last time, and to my delight, one of those long freight trains came through. I’m not quite sure why I get such pleasure from the trains – a schoolboy fascination with heavy machinery, perhaps, but they certainly typify America for me.
I won’t post too many details of our visit to Kathleen and Tom, save to thank them for their hospitality, and say how great it was to catch up on family news. On Thursday night, we went out to eat. Tom selected Famous Dave’s, chosen to give us a taste of real American Bar-B-Que. We indulged in an “All-American BBQ Feast”. I have the menu in front of me now, and I quote, “A full slab of St Louis style spareribs, a whole chicken, 1/2 lb of either Texas beef brisket or Georgia chopped pork (we had some of each), coleslaw, Famous Fries, Wilbur Beans (these turned out to contain yet more pork), corn on the cob, and corn bread muffins.” What can I say? It celebrated our visit in true American style:
On the way back, we visited Cabela’s, which we’d spotted at Prairie du Chien. We were introduced to Cabela’s last year by a guy who stopped to chat about the bikes, and who told us what an institution it was. It’s a “sports outfitters”, which means that it sells all sorts of ordnance for hunting, fishing, and shooting, as well as clothing. It’s a wonderland. Here’s the store entrance:
I’d hoped to buy myself a T-shirt like the ones we saw last year, which had a slogan along the lines of “American values. Motherhood, Apple Pie, the 2nd Amendment, and Cabela’s”. This year’s are more obviously jokey, although I was quite taken with one that said, “Droppin’ the hammer on thunder chickens” with a picture of a wild turkey. Sadly, they didn’t have it in my size. But I spent a happy hour in the fishing section, and even bought some artificial baits that aren’t available in the UK.
And then back to Delavan for our final night in the US, and the inevitably tedious flight home.